CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Jordan Roper had 12 points and Clemson outlasted depleted Georgia Tech 45-41 for its 500th victory at Littlejohn Coliseum on Tuesday night.
This one won’t go down as the best-played contest in the 45-year-old building’s history.
Trailing 43-41, the Yellow Jackets had a final chance in the dying seconds. But K.J. McDaniels blocked Marcus Georges-Hunt’s layup and Kammeon Holsey’s follow was short. Jaron Blossomgame collected the rebound for Clemson, got fouled and made both free throws as the Tigers won their eighth straight over Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets played without leading scorer Trae Golden, who re-aggravated a groin injury in their last game at Wake Forest.
McDaniels did not have his best showing for Clemson (15-6, 6-3) with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting.
Daniel Miller led Georgia Tech (12-11, 3-7) with 18 points.
Georgia Tech looked to take control with a 15-7 run to start the second half and go up 37-32. But the Tigers answered with a 9-0 run to move back in front. McDaniels’ jam with 4:39 left put Clemson ahead for good 39-37.
Miller was Georgia Tech’s lone scoring source, making 9 of 13 baskets to keep his team in it.
This was Clemson’s first home game since it defeated Wake Forest 61-53 on Jan. 18. Since, the Tigers were blown out at ACC-newcomer Pittsburgh (76-43) and at North Carolina (80-61) to fall to 0-57 all-time at Chapel Hill.
Clemson, though, rebounded in its last road test with a 53-49 victory at Florida State – the Tigers’ third ACC victory on the road this season.
And awaiting them at Littlejohn was Georgia Tech, who hadn’t won here in its last eight visits dating back to 2006.
The Yellow Jackets were a seriously depleted squad, too. Leading rebounder Robert Carter Jr. is out indefinitely with a knee injury, senior forward Jason Morris is gone with a broken foot while reserve guard Solomon Poole was dismissed from the team on Monday.
Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory had hoped to have Golden back for this one, but he did not see action.
Still, Georgia Tech stood toe-to-toe defensively with the Tigers, ranked second in the country in points allowed.
Clemson started out 5 of 16 from the field and went more than five minutes without a basket as the Yellow Jackets opened up a 22-18 lead. That’s when the Tigers got going on both ends of the court and finished the half with a 7-0 run to lead 25-22 at the break.
Roper had five points in the run, including his second 3-pointer of the half. The sophomore closed the half by finishing a layup off a pretty inside pass from McDaniels.
McDaniels, Clemson’s top scorer averaging almost 17 points this season, was held in check by the Yellow Jackets the first 20 minutes. He was 1 of 7 on field goals and missed all three of his shots beyond the arc.